Expelling “Urinetown” (Pun Intended)

30 11 2006

I have my own conflict-filled Urinetown story to tell, how we fought to get it first in my college town the moment it became licensed for local productions.

The college kids won, stole it right out from under our community theatre company; not even a musical-mad community like ours needs two Urinetowns in the same semester, although given its creative opportunities we could have put on two quite different versions — the show’s Broadway producer recently said it “can be interpreted in different ways. It is basically a playground for any director, choreographer or design team to use their creative imagination. . .

But today Urinetown’s power of story is the opposite of creative license and fighting for the chance to be first with the most.

It, sadly, is about stifling and smothering the arts rather than vigorous competition for the chance to show what we know and can do on the cutting edge. It’s about small-minded people fighting to keep this challenging musical AWAY from their schools and students (and worse, even justifying their small-mindedness by claiming to be broad-minded! Read on.)

This is especially jarring for me after the lovely Julliard education experiment I blogged the other day, in which school music is being elevated to its real-world range of expression rather than being dumbed down to forcefed school pabulum for aspiring artists stuck with nothing else to sink their teeth into.

I guess no school budget ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of its kids or community. Here are two of these very backward stories, and there are others. The only apparent good news here is that the Catholic school is apparently less repressive than the public school!

ERIE, Pa. (AP) – Cathedral Prep high school in Erie must try to sell tickets to its upcoming school play without referring to its title — “Urinetown: The Musical.”

Erie Catholic Bishop Donald Trautman does not object to the play itself — but a diocesan spokesman says the bishop is concerned with the title “Urinetown” being connected publicly to the all-male Catholic high school.

Because altering the name of the Broadway show is illegal, the priest that is directing the play — Father Michael DeMartinis — says he has the unenviable task of producing tickets, posters and programs that don’t use the play’s name.

The play is scheduled for December seventh through tenth. DeMartinis says he’s hoping people will come to see this play which dare not speak its name.

(Maybe they could send a bus to Wisconsin for all the folks shut out of seeing the play there, offer some sort of weekend package?)

High School Gives Urinetown the Big Flush
. . .”Urinetown” a comedy about a town plagued by such a serious drought thatresidents must pay to use public restrooms, was a surprise hit on the GreatWhite Way. But while it suited Broadway to a pee, it just won’t play inPeoria. Or the Wisconsin town of Stevens Point.

That was the ruling of the school administrators who brought the curtain down on a production of the show by students at Stevens Point Area High School, the Associated Press reports.

The show’s bathroom humor and adult themes figured in the decision to cancel it, according to Principal Mike Devine.

“This is a K-12 public education system,” said School Superintendent BetteLang, contending the show’s satirical and ironic humor was not appropriatefor younger audiences.

“I think it’s important to remember them and when we showcase our students, we should showcase them to as broad a range as possible,” she said,

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Teachers Secretly Grok Unschooling

30 11 2006

Teacher Magazine gets it, real-world journalists get it, probably Dr. Phil agrees too. We all get unschooling!

Thou Shalt Blog

I wonder if forcing teachers to blog is the right approach. If someone at my company had told me a year ago that I had to start a blog, I would have done it only because I had to. My heart wouldn’t have been in it, and my readers probably would have sensed that.

But because the idea for my blog grew up naturally from the grassroots, rather than from a newsroom edict that all writers and editors start blogging, I have enthusiastically moved into the blogosphere.

I did this on my own terms, and I think it shows.

Then again, I’m a journalist, not an educator. . .

Learning and developing new skills on your own terms because you’re curious, ready and willing rather than because you “have to” by edict, doing anything you do because it’s your idea and your heart is in it, makes all the difference.